Poll: Gays in military not Congress decision

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The public thinks the military rather than Congress should decide the issue of “open homosexuality” in the ranks, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Family Research Council, which accused Washington Democrats of only pushing the issue from fear of losing their congressional majority in November’s elections.

“By short circuiting this process, it will only fuel more political unrest in this country,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action. “The concern here is that people are beginning to see the Obama administration pushing a very radical agenda.”

According to the single-question poll, three-fifths of Americans (59 percent) believe that military leaders should be the ones to make the decision. Only 23 percent said that the question should fall into the hands of Congress and almost one-fifth (18 percent) said there were unsure.

The Obama administration decided earlier this week to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and ask Congress to repeal its 1993 ban on homosexuality in the military. But the plan, according to numerous media reports, would not take effect until the Pentagon had decided how to implement it — a process that either could take a long time if the military will be permitted to foot-drag, or could be presented as a direct order not to be questioned.

Some groups that didn’t think the military should determine its rules on sexual conduct and orientation include Democrats (37 percent), people under 30 (45 percent), single people (44 percent) and blacks (44 percent).

Support for the military deciding the matter was slightly higher among people in the armed forces or who have a family member serving — 65 percent think the military should determine its rules, while 21 percent want Congress to decide and 14 percent are unsure.

The question was asked by Zogby International, a market research and opinion polling firm, who said that there were 2,063 voters between May 14 and May 17 and had a 2.2 margin of error.

Though Mr. Perkins said he thinks repeal of the ban would be “damaging to the military,” he said political appointees should not determine military rules, but rather those who serve their country “day in and day out.”

“This is clearly a way to use the military as a radical political agenda. There have been no hearings on this issue and guaranteed that there will not be,” said Mr. Perkins, adding that he thinks the Democrats are hurrying to get passed as much political payoff as possible to its interest groups “before they are afraid of not having the majority in November.”

Retired Gen. John Sheehan, speaking to reporters at a Tuesday conference call along with Mr. Perkins, called bypassing the military a “troubling” move that would send a message that their opinion does not matter.

“There has been no military input with this repeal,” he said. “It would send a damaging message to those in the service.”

Retired Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis, the Family Research Council’s senior fellow for national security, said that military leaders discovered that retention and health, privacy, living conditions and family issues would be hurt if there were a repeal.

“Military life is not an 8-4 job but about families who live on the base,” he said. “It is when they start becoming openly expressive in their lifestyle that it starts to break down.”

Mr. Perkins called it a “political charade” and said that the American people should be outraged.

“Once something becomes approved and acceptable, then it is going to grow,” he said.

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